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Full episode 04.11.12 | 02:30 - 03:00 UTC

Faith Matters - The Church Program

When the Dead Come Visiting

The beginning of November marks the Feast of All Souls, when Catholics all over the world commemorate the dead.

In Mexico, this feast has a special significance. It’s called "Día de los Muertos” - the Day of the Dead. Whereas in secular Europe death is generally viewed as something catastrophic, the Mexicans encounter the phenomenon with cheerful faith. They believe that the dead return to visit their families on the "Día de los Muertos”. And they welcome the souls with a rousing festival - decorating their streets and houses with flowers.

German-born Marion Tavella lost her husband some years ago. In Mexico she has found a new purpose in life. She works as an art therapist in an orphanage. Every year she prepares for the Day of the Dead with 500 orphans. When the souls of the deceased come visiting, they find tables full of offerings waiting for them: tasty dishes, a special bread called "pan de muerto” and little skulls made of sugar. Marion Tavella makes the decorations - skulls, skeletons and other unusual ornaments - together with the children. When the dead finally arrive, it’s a serious moment. But then everyone celebrates, and it is one of Mexico’s most popular festivals.